Green economy supported 357,000 jobs in 2012

The UK green economy contributed 357,000 jobs to the UK in 2012, growing more than 5% in two years according to figures released Wednesday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The UK’s independent statistics office said they had carried out the study because of an increasing demand in the UK, and internationally, to measure the progress towards a green economy.

By far the biggest sector within the industry was ‘Wastewater and waste management services’ with 120,600 full time employees – a 6.6% increase between 2010 and 2012.

The Waste & Resources Action Plan (WRAP) recently claimed that continued progress towards a circular economy will add another 200,000 jobs to the UK economy by 2030.

Value added

The renewable energy sector saw the largest rise, in terms of employment, adding almost 3,000 jobs – an increase of 59%. This uptick was matched by 44% growth in gross value added (GVA)to the economy, taking the GVA of the renewables sector to £664m.

‘Insulation activities’ also saw a 66% increase in GVA, with growth driven by the take-up of the Green Deal and government initiatives to help home owners make energy saving improvements.

Continued support

The Environmental Industries Commission’s (EIC) executive director Matthew Farrow said: “What these statistics highlight is the ongoing importance of the UK’s environmental goods and services sector to the economic recovery and its noteworthy contribution to the domestic jobs market.

“We hope this is something an incoming Government will recognise and continue to support.”

However the new figures are not uniformly positive, as the growth for the green economy as a whole was 1.5% between 2010 and 2012, significantly lower than the 6.2% growth enjoyed by GDP as a whole.

The recycling industry was a primary cause for slower-than expected growth as its GVA fell by more than £600m, a 21% drop.


The ONS report – the first look into the green economy by the UK’s independent statistics office – produced numbers significantly lower than the Government, who recently reported 7% growth every year between 2010 and 2013, totalling 460,000 jobs.

Brad Allen

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie